We are moving ever closer to a “Metaverse” where we can escape into a VR world to live out our fantasies of adventure and excitement. Zenith: The Last City is the latest step toward a true virtual world.
Being Your Best Self
Zenith: The Last City is one of the more difficult games I’ve had the pleasure to review. It’s familiar territory, in that it’s an MMO. However, the very nature of it being in VR makes it a new beast entirely and, so, we shall start with the beginning.
Character creation is a hallmark of MMO and RPGs as a whole. The options here are a little limited as you can see in the picture above. Especially when compared to games that have been out for quite some time, like WoW and the Fallout series. We have to keep in mind, however, that these avatars are three-dimensional, and have to function as such. We are still exploring what can be rendered in VR. This may improve in time. Also, the armor and weapons can change the look as well, which is more than I can say for the recent Avengers game.
Class…Is In Session
For now, there are only two classes to choose from: Blade Master and Essence Mage. These are broken up into subclasses that can be played very differently depending on your preference.
The essence mage can use magic launchers (essentially magic guns). These have limited ammo, but recharge quickly when not in use. You can also equip two different types of magic launchers, so you can mix and match different abilities. On the other hand, you can keep one hand free to cast spells, the real draw for this subclass. Using spells is both frustrating and fun at the same time. Taking a page from some other sorcery-based VR games, you cast spells using hand gestures. This is fun and intuitive, but can be difficult to master when in the heat of battle. I’m not sure if it was intentional, but I view this as the same difficulty you might have if you really were part of that world, adding to the “real” experience. This means that trying different spells will take some time and practice.
Alternatively, the blade master also uses gestures, only with swords in hand. Being the close combat class, you will be in the frantic melee, but this can be more interesting for some than the essence mage. Some skills require both swords, others only need one. This makes for a challenging, but rewarding combat style, as well as being very similar to Sword Art Online‘s description of sword styles.
Hero Meets World
The enormity of this virtual world is incredible. As you can see in the map above, this is one of the most ambitious creations in VR history. While not fully open-world, the sheer amount of landscape here is impressive.
Filling this world are NPCs and quest-givers. Monsters also litter the land, with pretty fast respawn times. This will mean that you won’t be looking for a fight very long. The collectibles and places to explore are vast. The game includes a fast travel option as well as a mini map for certain missions. Quests and missions for Zenith are a little tedious, and sometimes repetitive. This is a regular occurrence for RPGs in general, let alone MMORPGs. As time moves on, more will be added and improved upon. We’ve seen that the developer has a passion for this project, and a willingness to listen to the players. They have already made huge improvements to stability and player experience in the beginning areas of the game.
Adding to the user interface, you have spaces for optional items. This will usually be used up by health restoring items, like food. As these items float around your waist at all times, reaching for your weapon and accidently grabbing a cookie can be a fatal mistake. The menus are easy to navigate, as long as you pay attention to the instructions given. Also, as an interesting take, you access a pop-up kitchen to make new food. This can be a bit challenging. Although, I do appreciate a game that makes cooking interesting.
What’s The Verdict?
Zenith: The Last City is not perfect. Like most other MMOs starting out, it has a few hurdles to get over. The game has some pretty noticeable lag, even when on the fastest internet. The user interface is good. However, the menus can be a little hard to get used to.
It can not be overstated how impressive Zenith is. The social aspect is awesome. The game looks good. The map is huge. For all this in VR is nothing short of remarkable. It takes huge steps toward a “real” Oasis (Ready Player One) or Aincrad (Sword Art Online). Zenith: The Last City is only $30. The small hiccups that almost every MMO has had at first shouldn’t dissuade you from this experience. Especially since the developer has shown a willingness to listen to the player base, and skill to make the changes they want to. One thing is clear, Ramen VR is just getting warmed up!